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Streaming music subscriptions grew 26% in 2021, with YouTube Music as fastest growing DSP in the West

A study released by Midia Research shows that worldwide streaming subscriptions grew by a healthy 26.4% in the second quarter of 2021, standing at 521.3 million subscribers at the end of that period, an increase of 109.5 million from the year before. But that growth didn’t necessarily come via the usual DSP suspects.

Spotify continued to have by far the highest market share among streaming services, with its 31% slice of the pie being more than double the 15% claimed by the nearest runner-up, Apple Music. With Spotify adding more subscribers than any other service in the 12 months leading up to the middle of 2021, “there is no risk of Spotify losing its leading position anytime soon,” wrote Midia’s Mark Mulligan. But, he cautioned, “the erosion of its share is steady and persistent,” since Spotify had a 33% share at the same time a year before and 34% in 2019.

So who’s benefitting most from the industry’s gains? Midia points to the momentum belonging to YouTube Music, which still has a modest share — just 8% of the market — but which grew by more than 50% during the 2020-to-2021 Q2 period. “YouTube Music was the only Western DSP to increase global market share during this period,” Mulligan writes.

The news was also fairly good for second-place Apple Music, which saw gains of 25%, versus Spotify’s 20% growth.

“But the biggest subscriber growth came from emerging markets,” Midia points out. Two services that are only available in China, Tencent Music Entertainment and NetEase Cloud Music, together account for 18% of the global streaming market — and those two combined added 35.7 million subscribers during the 12 months measured. (Tencent has 13% of the worldwide market, and NetEase is at 6%.)

And whatever Cold War fears may be arising at present about Russia, streaming is getting hotter in that country. “Yandex, in Russia, was the other big gainer,” Mulligan writes, “doubling its subscriber base to reach 2% of global market share.”

Midia’s report cautions that the 26.4% global growth in subscribers doesn’t translate to that big of an increase in revenue. The reason for a disparity, Mulligan writes, is due to “the rise of multi-user plans and the growth of lower-spending emerging markets.” Still, he adds, “growth in monetized users represents the foundation stone of the (DSP) streaming market. So, accelerating growth at this relatively late stage of the streaming market’s evolution is clearly positive.” Variety

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